A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gov. Matt Bevin says he has votes to pass pension legislation, trying to find best time for special session

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Gov. Matt Bevin says he has the votes to pass a pension reform plan for Kentucky’s regional universities and other quasi-governmental agencies, but the summer vacation season has kept him from calling a special session.

During a Wednesday appearance on WKCT Radio in Bowling Green, the governor said, “It is the responsibility of legislators, even part-time legislators, to be available whenever the call is made. But we want to be sensitive to people’s organizational and personal needs as much as we possibly can.”

Gov. Matt Bevin says he has the votes to pass a pension plan but is looking at the best time this month to call a special session. (Appalachian News Express photo, via Kentucky Today)

Bevin wanted to address the issue by July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year, but since the bills aren’t due until August, he says there is still time.

“We do have the leniency of a couple extra weeks, really the month of July, to be able to get this done,” he said.

Bevin says he continues to meet with legislative leadership. “Just last night we were discussing this again. We’ll get this done. We believe we can get this done. It’s certainly imperative we get this done. The votes are there, it’s just a function of getting people to come back and actually do the job that only 138 legislators can do.”

While Democrats maintain it would take a supermajority of legislators to pass the legislation, since the state Constitution requires that during for appropriations measures during a non-budget year, Bevin maintains that’s not the case.

“This is not an appropriations bill, therefore, it only requires a simple majority of the House and of the Senate,” he said. “This has been the law in Kentucky for years and years, per our Constitution. So, this is just a stall tactic to try and stop any kind of solution.”

Bevin also said he was puzzled by Democrats blocking the solution for pensioners, given their party affiliation. “The majority of them happen to be registered Democrats, and yet Democrats have created this problem and are doing nothing to try to solve the problem.”

Pension costs for the 118-quasi-government agencies nearly doubled effective July 1, putting the financial future for many of them in doubt, without some kind of relief.

In addition to the regional universities, local health departments, rape crisis centers, and mental health clinics, among others, are among the agencies affected by the spike in pension costs.

Bevin also said he is a strong believer in term limits for legislators.

“The longer you stay in something, disconnected from another something; the less you are understand it, the less you are able to interface with it, the less you are able to effectively help it,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to be citizen legislators as our founders intended, for us to serve a finite period of time.

“I think there is something to be said for a fresh turnover of ideas. For energy, commitment or sense of urgency that comes from by not just worrying about just getting re-elected but worrying about getting things done. I think it’s healthy, it’s good for America.”

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